Introducing...Laura Westlake

Committing to being a student-athlete is more than just a pledge to sports, as we often hear it's also an opportunity for personal growth and academic excellence. We have a tight and supportive performance sports community here at Essex and to receive an update from those who have moved on, thriving in their time beyond the playing field, is one worth sharing.

University of Essex Alumni Rugby Scholar Laura Westlake representing Cheltenham Tigers

Alumni rugby scholar Laura Westlake has done just that, finding a platform to succeed and the confidence to pursue a career in the sport she loves most. Her testimonial reflects on the inspiring journey that defined her time at the University.


“The University of Essex was an opportunity giving an enjoyable journey for me. I captained the Performance 7s side and was president of a strong women’s rugby team whilst achieving a 2.1 degree in BSc Sports Performance & Coaching. The facilities available to us on the performance program allowed me to reach my full potential as a rugby player. I was selected to represent Saracens Rugby at the Premiership 7s tournament in Bath. I was part of the wider squad in the 2018/2019 season and made my first appearance against Darlington Mowden Park Sharks. I trialled and went on to represent Essex County under the University name and alongside two more of our performance squad.

Both as an individual and a team the university squad improved with the physical and mental support available to us, such as physiotherapists, Strength & Conditioning, and nutrition advice. I still play competitive rugby at the second highest level in England, representing Cheltenham Tigers at Twickenham in 2023, winning the championship and the women’s cup on the same day!

Working within performance sport at the university encouraged me to apply for the RFU activator role. This lead me onto a career path that I still follow to this day. Going to The University of Essex was one of the best choices I made and they helped me to achieve my best both academically and in my sporting career."


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Sports scholarships and bursaries

We are committed to supporting and developing high performance athletes. Find out whether you could be eligible for a sports scholarship or bursary, plus a range of additional benefits too when you join the University of Essex.